Daniel Madoff



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Who's been there longer than you in the current group?
From me up, it's Brandon, Emma, Marcie, Andrea, Rashaun [Mitchell] and Jen [Goggans]. But [Jen] doesn't have any mean in her; sometimes I just wish she would be, like, a little mean, you know? Say it.

How is it hard mentally? Did you answer that?
It was hard when Merce was alive, too, because he demanded so much. I hate to admit it, but I'm very competitive, and I always want to do all the roles, and I want to dance a lot, so that was hard and very stressful. And it's hard now because he's not around. But there was a certain level of relief that I felt when he wasn't—this sounds terrible. But that competitive thing kind of went away. I believe in Merce obviously. And that's been part of my struggle—trying to find maybe a new company I want to go to, or who do I really believe in? And does it matter if I really believe in them? But now that Merce is dead, sometimes people do question the work, and sometimes people are mean about it, and it's harder for me to deal with that now that he's gone. I want to keep dancing. I do want to spend some time eventually in France. But the main thing I want to do is take a break. I want my mentality to return to normal human-being mentality; I grew up in this small world, and I haven't left it, and I think it will take some time to readjust. Back to normalcy. Reality.

You share certain roles with the critically acclaimed Rashaun Mitchell. How do you deal with that?
He's such a sweet human being. And he and I have sort of taken the same niche in Cunningham—we both fit the same roles—and he can't be more gracious. He's so generous with me, and he kind of cancels out my competitive edge. Can you imagine what I was thinking when I had to do fucking RainForest ? But it was really Antic Meet ; I was petrified.

Were you panicked?
I was panicked. Not sleeping. But I wasn't reviewed at all, which I was almost thankful about. But Rashaun has really been helpful. Like, I told Rashaun all that and he's like, "Daniel, just dance, you know?" And it's been a blast, and the more fun I have with it, the more fun the audience has, it seems.

What do you think of, I guess, the school and the company disappearing?
Oh my God, it's awful. The school, well—it sucks for New York, to be honest. The space alone is something that the dance world should be fighting for—I can't believe it's going to go away—but the technique? How many people trained there? A lot of people. What's a modern-dance class? What the hell does that mean? I used to take those, and I can't do it anymore. What are you teaching? I don't know. I take ballet a lot actually. I take with Christine Wright sometimes. I take Igal Perry and Zvi Gotheiner, even though everyone who takes his class is insane. It's huge. It's kind of hilarious. There's so many people, and they're insane. I don't actually like it there, to be honest. I love Kenny Larson. He's very hands off, which I just love. But that building is gone. It's my home, you know?

How do you regard Trevor Carlson?
He's tough. I like him as a human being. He very much in control of the company and of the legacy. He's a tough individual. Who has been a part of Merce's process? Trevor's seen the behind-the-scenes stuff. He was integral in all of the collaborations in the last years, for better or for worse. And then there's me—I'm just a lowly dancer who's actually been in the room when he was doing what he actually does, and I try not to put the value on either of our experiences, but I don't know if that goes both ways. I don't necessarily know. And like I say, I don't claim to know what Merce's process was, but I've been hearing a lot about people describing his process.

Talking to whom?
To panels, talking about the timing issue with the stopwatch, but never really explaining it. You know, I'm sick of hearing about how Merce made a piece and it was supposed to be this length, and if it was a second longer, he was upset, and if it was exact, he was very happy. I'm sick of hearing about that because no one explains why.

So if I'm making a piece and I ask you to walk all the way across the room, and I say to do it in 30 minutes, it's gonna look a lot different than if I say to do it in two seconds. That was more the issue. If you do a two-minute solo, and it's supposed to be two minutes, and you finish in two and a half minutes or even a one-minute solo and you finish in one and a half minutes, you've added a third of the time, so what did you slow down? Which movements did you do incorrectly?

That's what it's about. It's not about the arbitrary time thing. It's not matching up with the music or anything like that. I don't like to hear his ideas trivialized like that. And talking about the computer—like I read a quote once by Radiohead that was printed on the website, and I actually said, "You have to take that off the website." It said something like, "Merce showed us how his computer generated movement," or something like that. And that's just not the case. People say that he randomly generated movement from the computer, and they're all fascinated by the computer, but nobody knows why. I think the computer was like writing music with software. It seems that's more of what it was about. In the end, it's not really that interesting because we never saw the computer images. One time we did, because he was doing a lecture about it. It just seemed like such a farce to me. I can't really say for sure because, first of all, at that point I think he'd stopped using the computer. And second of all, it was just a means to an end, and if he could have had a dancer, I think he would have just had a dancer do it.

And that's why the RUGs became so important—the RUGs became his computer.
I think you're absolutely right. He would read a string of choreography by the end [to the RUGs] I don't know how he came up with the choreography, but we never saw any descriptions.

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